U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a driving force in the Obama administration’s Afghan war plan, aims to retire some time next year, he said in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine released on Monday.
Gates, who was also defense secretary for President George W. Bush, had been expected to leave before the end of President Barack Obama’s first term in 2012.
During his time as Defense Secretary, he has cut programs and pledged to curb spending. Gates stopped the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor stealth fighter plane, killed whole sections of the Army’s Future Combat Systems, and sank the Navy’s DDG-1000 destroyer, the magazine reports.
Gates, who turns 67 in September, says he wants to leave the job and retire, this time for good, sometime in 2011. “I think that it would be a mistake to wait until January 2012,” he said. It might be hard to find a good person to take the job so late, with just one year to go in the president’s current term. And, he added, “This is not the kind of job you want to fill in the spring of an election year.”